Redskins' offense fuels optimism

ASHBURN, Va. -- The reason they cling to hope is because they've done it before. Just a year ago in fact. But they need more than just history to prove they can finish strong and, perhaps, get on a run.

The offense says they can look to them. The numbers say they have good reason to do so.

"We run the ball, we're getting a lot of yards, we're scoring some points," Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. "Things that were tripping us up at the beginning. We've done a better job scoring points in the red zone ... If there's anything to be optimistic about from an offensive perspective, it's that."

The Redskins are a different offensive team since they last played Philadelphia in a season-opening 33-27 loss. It starts with quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has returned to being a threat running or throwing. In the opener, his legs weren't an issue.

And when Griffin starts to play this way, the offense is different. In the first four games, Washington moved the ball fine, ranking ninth in yards per game at 390.8. But the Redskins are a running team and they only averaged 106 rushing yards in those games.

But in the last five games Washington ranks first in rushing yards per game (187.40 -- 26.40 yards ahead in fact) and first in yards per rush (5.21). During this time, they're second in yards per game (426.21).

"We've got a lot of offensive power, offensive weapons," Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon said. "You've got to feel optimistic. When you have confidence in all players and teammates, you have an optimistic feeling about the second half of the season. It's actually a better feeling than last year."

The Eagles do rank 14th in yards per carry as well as yards rushing per game. But Washington feels it's playing much closer to what it did last season.

"I do feel that, especially for the first three quarters of the games we've played recently," Lichtensteiger said. "We don't get into those dropback games early, we do our running, do our play action. Those lead to big plays for us."

In the first two games of the season the Redskins could not stick with their game plan because they struggled and fell behind by double digits. In the last five games they've remained in the game into the fourth quarter. Their problem offensively is eliminating the turnovers (16 so far this season; two more than in 2012). If they can do that, the production could increase.

"We're starting faster so we can run a lot more of our stuff that we have in our offense," Griffin said, "and that everything together is working better. We're doing better on third downs in pocket passing, we're doing better on first and second downs to make our third downs more manageable. So I feel like in that aspect we're clicking better on offense. It's not just because I'm running, even though to the outside eye it might seem that way."